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Survey shows strong support for increasing cigarette tax in California



June 08, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health 

A majority of Californian adults and likely voters support raising the state’s tax on cigarettes, according to a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll released on June 3.


The survey found that 70 percent of adults and 67 percent of probable voters are in favor of a cigarette tax hike in California — a concept that also received strong support across “political parties, age groups, and income groups,” PPIC stated in a press release.


Luther F. Cobb, M.D., president of the California Medical Association (CMA), said the poll is a good sign for the Save Lives California coalition and its campaign to raise the tobacco tax.


“With tobacco use on the rise and smoking-related disease still the number one cause of preventable death, voters believe it’s time to restore California’s life-saving tobacco tax program,” he said in a statement.


“The tobacco industry will surely spend millions to defeat an initiative, just like they have spent millions on lobbying and campaign contributions,” Dr. Cobb added, “but ultimately we believe they will fail.”


Fifty-nine percent of Republican voters, 79 percent of Democrat voters and 68 percent of independent voters support a higher tax on cigarettes, according to the poll. So do 65 percent of voters ages 55 and older — the age group with the highest voter turnout.


California’s legislators are currently considering a bill that would raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack. Senate Bill 591, authored by Senator Richard Pan, M.D., would raise the tax by $2 per pack. While the legislation remains a priority, the Saves Lives California coalition has also filed an initiative for the 2016 ballot to give voters the chance to increase the cigarette tax themselves.


California hasn’t raised its cigarette tax since 1998. Since then, 47 other states have increased their tobacco taxes a total of 122 times. For more information on efforts to increase California’s tobacco tax, visit www.savelivesca.com.

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